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On our way to Wellington(28 Posts)
We have been living in Auckland for almost 2 years. Love it here (though we arrived with low expectations). However, my partner has recently accepted a job offer in Wellington CBD. We will be moving in about three weeks.
Having looked at possible places to live we have decided that we would prefer to keep his commute to a minimum. On this basis we have ruled out Kapiti coast etc.
Internet research of one kind and another has turfed up Brooklyn, Karori and Wilton as possible places to live. Based mainly on schools and being in the Wellington college zone (bit premature as our eldest is 6 but it was a way of narrowing our options!). Anyone have any experience/words of wisdom in relation to these areas? We have been warned about the weather......everybody mentions it. I have a leaning towards Otari school in Wilton based on what I have read so would especially like info about this and Karori and Brooklyn primaries.
Can't give you much info but my brother lives in Karori - have emailed him to ask what he thinks about the schools (as far as I know they are very happy with the one their kids go to, and happy with the Wgtn College/Wgtn Girls zoning for high school). I know they are also very happy in Karori and there are lots of things going on for kids I think (playcentre etc).
Thank you. All info gratefully received. We are Playcentre members here in Auckland so would hope to continue with this when we move.
Wellington College is a great choice! By far the best of the Wellington secondaries.....
I don't know Otari or Wilton personally - but it's got a montessori stream - are you thinking of that? (I'm so jealous.)
If you weren't thinking of Otari for it being montessori, I'd consider Brooklyn Newtown, Hataitai, the eastern suburbs like Miramar, Lyall bay, Island bay.......
Most places are nice
Drat, just drafted a long response and then deleted it somehow.
Welcome to Wellie!
Brooklyn primary is just down the road from me and well rated. Decile 9 I think - probably to do with all the hospital staff who live round here. Brooklyn itself is nice, there is a playcentre, playgroup etc, a lovely cinema and a few small shops.
Down the road, Berhampore is a lower decile school but the Montessori stream is well respected (there is a Montessori pre-school up the hill in Kingston which is also very good). It's a 20 minute bus ride to the CBD but lots of people walk. No supermarket though so for big shops you will need to go to Island Bay.
Karori Normal is supposed to be an excellent school. Decile 10. Karori is a very traditional suburb, with a swimming pool, shops, supermarket etc and the wonderful Sanctuary. Further from the beach though.
Wilton is OK but a bit of a commuter belt, IMO. No obvious centre or focal point. Not a lot for children apart from Wilton's Bush.
I agree with Indigo that it's worth looking south and east too. Island Bay is wonderful - it has everything really, a good school the beach, a New World, a cinema, restaurants. I think there's a playcentre there too. Miramar and Hataitai (another good primary there) are also very nice. A bit further away but there's an express bus service so the journey's not too bad into town. I agree, most of the suburbs are lovely.
Good luck! Feel free to PM me if you have more detailed qns.
Fantastic to read all your positive comments about Wellington. Decisions decisions.....good to have lots of decent options (though the choice seem a bit mind-boggling at the moment).
I am interested in the Montessori strand at Wilton school. Not from previous experience but because I think my elder son (a creative soul) might benefit from the child-directed learning. I also like the sound of the school's bi-cultural emphasis and its focus on the environment (at the risk of sounding like Mrs Right-On). Google maps did make me wonder about the possible lack of any amenities in Wilton though so your comment about that was helpful Scroobius.
i have taught at Karori Normal and it is a great, although very large, school. Great pool in Karori and lots of families too. Prefer City end to Karori West. Also like Khandallah - nice summer pool, little parade of shops, some pretty housing, lovely parks, good transport into the city, Khandallah and Cashmere Schools are both good, ditto Ngaio. Rather than Wilton (nowhereville), how about Wadestown? Nice library, parade of shops, lots going on, lovely bush walking at Trelisick Park, good school. Otari School is supposed to be very environmental - is it an immersion school, or does it just have an immersion class? I do like Island Bay, but it can be a bit of a transport bottle neck - one road in and out. Wouldn't go to Berhampore School - lots of time taken up with behaviour and dealing with pastoral issues. Seatoun expensive and a bit like Island bay in that it is one road in and another out, but very desirable and villagey. School is supposed to be fantastic. If you could afford somewhere like Roseneath, I hear that Clyde Quay School in Mount Vic is very good - strong bi and multi culturalism, very creative.
Thanks Delphine. Good to have some inside info re Karori school. The only thing putting me off at the moment is the size of the roll. Not ruled it out though. Seems that Otari might be just that bit out of the way. It is not totally immersion, it has an immersion strand, a Montessori strand and a standard strand.
Don't want to bug everyone with too many questions but when are the next school hols in Wellington? From a website I got the impression they may differ to Auckland's, which would be good in terms of our recce. Thanks again.
Berhampore school also has a montessori stream.
Really, you are spoilt for choice - you are so lucky
I live in Ngaio. Its a very family friendly suburb and 10 mins from town. Option of train or bus to commute if you don't want to drive. Good local kindy, well respected school, local library and small shopping centre, nice playground. Easy drive to 3 supermarkets and more shops in Khandallah including a post office. But on the downside it's not zoned for Wellington College if that's your preference for your DS - only choice for boys is Onslow (co-ed). Have a look at their recent (March 2011) ERO report though. Well Coll is much more traditional boys schools. Depends what will suit your son really. Both are decile 10. My DD1 actually goes to Thorndon School and she loves it there. I drop her on the way into work. She's keen to go to Onslow although she could go to Wellington Girls and most of the girls at Thorndon School probably will go there. Onslow is more welcoming of students that are slightly outside the norm, has a larger subject choice, good Gifted Ed programme etc. Well Coll generally regarded as more academic though and sporty.
Karori is sometimes labelled NZ's largest suburb. Consequently it has a wide range of community facilities. However Karori Normal primary is the biggest primary school in Wellington so you might want to consider that. I know 2 families who chose to drive to the next closest school as they didn't like KN's size. Karori is also a pain to get in and out of, one road gets very congested, and only a bus service (albeit very frequent).
Wilton is good if you want reasonably priced housing not too far from the city and generally quite sunny. However there are no local shops or amenities there at all (other than the school). The closest are in Northland and they're not that fantastic either (loads of takeaways). It is very leafy though, lots of birdlife etc.
The best value suburb in Wellington is Johnsonville but it is much more of a mixed community with quite a bit of HNZC housing. Great local amenities though and easy access to drive north up the coast. Also good train service 20 mins to CBD, more like a tram than a train really. Really nice houses there for under $500k easily.
Wadestown and Kelburn are generally regarded as a bit posh. Both have some cheaper properties but they are often up 50 steps. Both have good primary schools and are zoned for Well Coll. You can walk into the CBD from both and Kelburn has cable car to take you home! I grew up in Kelburn and have fond memories of it. The university gives it a bit of character.
Brooklyn houses often have great harbour views. It also has a nice local cinema and some reasonable shops plus library. School has a reasonable reputation. There are some very windy streets in Brooklyn though - up by the eind turbine for example!
Happy to answer any questions you have. I've lived in Kelburn, Hataitai, Northland, Brooklyn, Ngaio, Thorndon and CBD.
Oooh, I've been away so long I got confused
Wellington College is not the school I'd recommend - it's Wellington High. Although Onslow college is also good.
Like BB says, Wellington College is very academic, whereas Wellington High is lovely and alternative.............
I went to Wellington High though that was a long time ago. I think it depends how traditional education you want - if you want single-sex and pretty traditional then Wgtn College/Wgtn Girls are the way to go, but if you want something more alternative and liberal then Wgtn High or Onslow. In my day Onslow was a bit posher but I don't know how things are now.
I emailed my brother but he hasn't got back to me yet...
What buzzybee says all rings true to me.
Thanks so much everyone for taking the time to send such helpful answers. It is helping to make me feel less daunted at the prospect of moving. Wellington College zone was just a way of narrowing my search really (and it looks pleasing in photos!). My eldest is only six. He seems quite academically able but his Y1 teacher was convinced he will end up on stage....so perhaps a more alternative secondary school would be just the ticket!
Interesting to hear more in favour of Ngaio. An old friend of my partner is living there and rates it highly. New colleagues have suggested Johnsonville but I am not so sure as it looks to have lots of new housing development (I am thinking Albany on Auckland's North Shore if that is familiar?). We prefer suburbs with a bit more character. I appreciate we can't have it all but seeing as we are uprooting the family (again) we'd like to settle in area we'll want to stay in longer term. We have an apartment booked for a month by new employer (CBD), so I will be popping down in a few weeks to have a good look around. There may well be more questions!
We looked at Johnsonville for a while but were put off by it not being so accessible and quite parochial. I have also taught at West Park in Johnsonville - an OK school but i wouldn't rave about it. Friends have taught at Johnsonville School and really disliked the atmosphere. However, the Intermediate there (Raroa) is supposed to be quite good and this takes kids from suburbs like Ngaio and Khandallah. I would favour the quiet streets around Ngaio and on the Ngaio/ Khandallah borders, but be very aware of sun issues as some houses are very cold on account of their hillside positions (not as bad as Brooklyn though!). We once went to see a house in Khandallah with harbour views to die for and a vast leafy garden, but it had mould in every cupboard and a pervading smell of damp largely due to the fact that it only got about 2 hours of sun in the morning. Also had about fifty mouldy wooden steps to access it.
Stereolab and delphine, I think the main reason J'ville's cheaper is that it is just that bit further out from Wellington and so harder to commute to town by car (but PT is quite good). It does have quite large bits of new development but also some much more established areas - it's a big suburb too. As I said it is a much more mixed community. Good if you want cheaper housing and still want pretty decent schools etc. Bit more boy racer-ish than some other parts of Wellington. My DD2 goes to childcare there. I have a view that Ngaio is more family-friendly for smaller kids but J'ville has perhaps more for teenagers - but I suppose that's probably influenced by Onslow College being there.
It is absolutely true that you need to watch out for lack of sun along the suburbs of the western hills. Although on the up side the ones with less sun and often much more sheltered from the prevailing NW wind. Particularly bad are those houses to the left of the railway line as you head north through Ngaio and Khandallah. For example, this one is on the right of the railway line (quite close to me actually) and will get plenty of sun www.trademe.co.nz/property/residential-property-for-sale/auction-385025288.htm while this one is the left and won't www.trademe.co.nz/property/residential-property-for-sale/auction-366902550.htm
Right, I am not buying a house without running it past you first Buzzybee! That's very helpful as were your comments on schools, areas and damp Delphine. We will be renting initially and will definitely be looking for a warm, dry place. We looked at some shocking rentals when we arrived in Auckland.
I must say Ngaio is coming out on top at the moment. The size of Karori primary is not appealing and having lived near Lake Road on the North Shore for the past 2 years we certainly want to avoid a place with only one road out and in!
Buzzy makes a good point re sunshine. If you're looking to the south or eastern suburbs, one top tip a developer friend told me is that if you can see the Brooklyn wind turbine from the property, you will get afternoon sun. If you can't see it, beware. I guess there must be some similar landmarks for the northern suburbs??
Maybe the TV tower on Mt Kaukau! But you do have to be a bit careful about wind too. Some streets seem to be more windy just because of the way the hills to the west funnel wind down gullies. The playground and playing grounds at Nairnville park (between Ngaio and Khandallah) seem to be in a particularly windy spot, but you wouldn't pick it just from driving past. My tip when looking for properties is to look for a nice garden with flowers. If its just grass and a few scrubby trees its probably very windy. If there are lots of native shrubs but very few flowers then sun could be a problem.
Right, here is the info from my brother:
Karori West is a lot smaller than Karori Normal, and my brother thinks it is very well run. They like the teachers and have been able to request the teacher they'd prefer each year. They do lots of composite classes (ie two years together eg Year 1 and Year 2), which he thinks works well.
Look at the ERO reports for schools you are interested in.
As for Karori itself, yes the one road in is a bit of an issue - up to 30 minutes to get into the centre at 8.15-8.30am, but 15-20 minutes if you leave closer to 9. Takes 10 minutes at non-peak times.
Lots of stuff to do - golf club 10 minutes away, mountain bike park not far away, wildlife sanctuary and big park with field for football and cricket. Also has a kind of village feel with a couple of supermarkets, medical centre, swimming pool, lovely new library, bakeries, petrol stations, toy library for kids, recreation centre with various sports, Plunket early childhood centre and 3 kindergartens (age 3-5).
For any house in Wellington, do be careful about heating - look out especially for heat pumps and double glazing as older homes with bad insulation can be very cold. Also be careful about the sun and location of house in relation to hills that might block out the sun.
Hi - Couldn't look at a thread on Wellington without commenting
We are in Whitby - about a 20-25 minute drive out of Wellington, 20minutes on the train (to paramata station). Just thought you might want to consider this area as we love it. Great Primary Schools, most are decile 10 and right on the edge of the Kapiti Coast and some great countryside. The house prices are cheaper that suburbs closer to the city centre and we have some great sea views of the Pautahanui Inlet.
The only downside are the Secondary Schools in the are which are apparently not quite as good as the ones in Wellington itself. Most of the kids in the area commute by train to the schools in the city.
Anyway - i just think this area is worth a look.
Many thanks Weta and Lavender.......your comments are helping us to plan our visit at the beginning of the school holidays. I think we will have a good look around before making any decision on areas. My partner was in Wellington on Thursday and whilst he wasn't able to have too much of a wander he was able to rule out Johnsonville. So that's a start!
Stereo - look forward to hearing your impressions after your visit in a couple of weeks! I was looking at rentals in Ngaio and came across this one which is the house in front of the last house I lived in (IYGWIM!). Its a really nice sunny spot, and great central location. The house I used to live in (you can just see it behind this one, the brick house) was too small for us but we liked the location so much that we moved to a house in a parallel street.
Thanks Buzzy. That's very good of you. Really helps to have some inside info. I had spotted the property on Trade Me (I am checking obsessively at the moment) and thought it looked promising, although the garden (or lack of) might be a problem. I also spotted one on Cockayne Road that looked nice too-(small garden again by the looks of things though). Do you know that street? Thought it might be quite busy when looking on Google Earth but it is hard to tell. Will be so much easier when I am actually in Wellington!
I would avoid Cockayne Rd and most of the streets that run immediately off it. It is a particularly windy part of Ngaio, although sunny. Also its quite a hike from there to the shops, library etc. You're right that house in Colway doesn't have a big garden. But I do have to say that in Wellington gardens don't tend to get used as much as they do in warmer climates. When we lived in the house behind that one I routinely walked with DD1 (then aged 3-5) down to the very nice local playground/park behind the shops. My pick of the streets in Ngaio (if you can look at a map!) would be in the roughly rectangular area bounded by Imlay Cres to the south and up as far as Lucknow Tce to the north, with Bombay St to the east and Ottawa/Khandallah Rd to the west. So including Imlay, Abbot, Aplin, Bombay, Colway, Tarikaka, Swansea, Ngatoto and Lucknow (technically Khandallah I think). Or moving into Khandalla, Clutha, Agra, Jubilee, Ganges, Everest, Izard, and the west end of Cashmere. Feel free to post some places you've spotted and want an opinion on!
Oh and Trelissick Cres is nice too (south end of Ngaio).